BHS.com has posted surging second quarter sales as the fledgling online business continues to attract new shoppers.
The website, which was resurrected by the Al Mana Group in the aftermath of BHS’ disappearance from the high street, enjoyed a 35% spike in sales during the period.
Revenues were driven up by the performance of its womenswear category, in which sales rocketed 350% year-on-year.
First-time shoppers represented around two-thirds of BHS.com’s customers during the period, as efforts to rejuvenate the brand continued to pay off.
“‘What would a start-up company do?’ And if they wouldn’t do it, then nor should we”
Kevan Mallinder, BHS International
BHS.com is run by around 20 staff – many of whom were employed from the defunct department store group when Al Mana Group snapped up the brand and formed BHS International last June.
Its managing director Kevan Mallinder told Retail Week back in April that he was harnessing the mentality of a start-up among the workforce in order make the business “strong, sustainable and dynamic”.
In an interview with the Press Association, Mallinder said: “The star of the show in the last quarter has been womenswear and that has grown because we have better products and we have given it more focus.
“A question I ask is: ‘What would a start-up company do?’ And if they wouldn’t do it, then nor should we. All the staff have needed is some freedom to ask themselves new questions.”
Qatar-based Al Mana also owns BHS’ overseas franchise business, which runs department stores across Europe and the Middle East.
Mallinder refused to rule out the possibility of returning BHS to the UK high street, despite the onset of inflation, fragile consumer confidence and increasing business rates.
However, he insisted the business was taking a long-term approach, focused around building the online business.
Mallinder said: “Because we are privately owned by the Al Mana Group, they want to see the business succeed long term, which brings a different aspect to the decisions.
“We are building something that is not measured by quarterly statements.”
Mallinder insisted that BHS.com would not be affected by the ongoing fallout of the department store chain’s demise, one and a half years after it plunged into administration.
The retailer collapsed in April last year, leaving a £571m black hole in its pensions scheme and 11,000 job losses.
It sparked a parliamentary inquiry, in which former owners Sir Philip Green and Dominic Chappell were hauled before MPs.
The latter is now being prosecuted by the Pensions Regulator for allegedly failing to cooperate with its investigation into BHS’ demise.
Despite the continuing saga, Mallinder said: “The past has happened and the regulators and the authorities will see that through to whatever the outcomes are.
“We cannot influence it, nor should we try to, because it’s past business.
“We have got a name that is nearly 90 years old, but we are a team of new people trying to create a new long-term business.”